It’s Christmas and it’s that time of the year when matches come thick and fast in the Barclays Premier League. Sam Allardyce’s men make the short trip to Stamford Bridge in this top of the table Boxing Day Clash. It’s a London Derby and you can expect a feisty encounter between the two sides.
In the corresponding fixture last season Chelsea were held to a goalless draw and Jose Mourinho didn’t hold back as he branded the Hammers’ style of play as “football from the 19th century”. Things have changed drastically since that fixture. West Ham find themselves in the top four and have been in fine form this season so far. Expect sparks to fly when Mourinho meets Big Sam.
Possible Starting LineUps
Chelsea have gone on a four match winning streak since their against the run of tide defeat against Newcastle United. They might not be able to match the incredible feat achieved by Arsenal’s “Invincibles” anymore, but they are still the pace-setters and the team to beat in the Premier League.
23 year old Eden Hazard is a doubt for this game after he limped out of his side’s 2-0 won over Stoke City on Monday following a challenge from Jonathan Walters. He is expected to shrug off the injury and start on Friday. Brazilian Oscar is expected to be called back into the starting line-up after he was rested in the 2-0 win over Stoke.
Mourinho is expected to name his tried and tested eleven in this all-important London derby.
West Ham (4-3-1-2)
Last season West Ham fans were calling for Sam Allardyce to be sacked due to the boring and sleep inducing football that his side was playing. This season the Hammers’ have been playing some fine football and currently sit in 4th position in the Barclays Premier League.
Midfielder Mark Noble is back after missing the last four games with an Achilles problem and is expected to be named in the starting line up. James Tomkins is a major doubt for the Hammers with a hamstring problem. James Collins would be ready to step in alongside Winston Reid in the heart of the defence should Tomkins not be fit.
Big Sam’s side face consecutive London derbies in the space of two days as they travel to Chelsea first and then to Arsenal. It will be a true test of his team’s character and Allardyce will be hoping that his side can prove that they are no pushovers.
Terry and Cahill vs Sakho and Carroll
Andy Carroll has been in great form since his return from injury and has shown the kind of form that earned him a 35 million pounds move to Liverpool during his Newcastle days. Sakho has been one of the signings of this season so far and has been a revelation upfront for the Hammers. It will be upto the ever-reliable and solid defensive pairing of John Terry and Gary Cahill to stop the free scoring Hammers’ forwards from adding to their already impressive goal tally.
Matic vs Downing
Since being resigned from Benfica, Nemanja Matic has gone on to establish himself as the best defensive mid-fielder in the Premier League. He will be up against Stewart Downing. The Englishman already has 4 goals to his name and is one of the reasons why the Hammers’ find themselves in the top four. Matic will be looking to impose himself on Downing and nullify any kind of service that Downing will be looking to provide to the West Ham forwards.
Song vs Fabregas
If you are looking to stop Chelsea from scoring you need to try and keep their provider-in-chief, Cesc Fabregas quiet. Fabregas has been in scintillating form upon his return to the Premier League and will be looking to provide his world-class service to the talented Chelsea forwards. Standing in his way would be the Barcelona loanee and Fabregas’ ex teammate, Alex Song. Song has been a rock at the base of the midfield for the Hammers and he will be looking to stop the Chelsea assist machine.
Key Facts and Stats
Chelsea have won their last 8 home games in the Premier League.
Chelsea have been winning at both half-time and full-time in their last 6 home games in the Premier League.
Chelsea have scored atleast 2 goals in their last 8 home games in the Premier League.
Chelsea are undefeated in 16 of their last 17 matches against West Ham in all competitions.
West Ham are undefeated in 10 of their last 11 matches in the Premier League.
Chelsea FC 3-1 West Ham FCPublished 25 Dec 2014, 11:51 IST